Myanmar President U Thein Sein returned to Nay Pyi Taw Friday from a three-day state visit to South Korea, bringing the improved relations to a new high.
It was Thein Sein's reciprocal visit following S. Korean President Lee Myung-bak's visit in May, which was the first visit of South Korean leader in 29 years to the Southeast Asian nation since 1983 when South Korean presidential delegation was bomb attacked in Yangon in which 21 people were killed.
Thein Sein was accompanied by five ministers including Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin, the Minister of Electric Power, Minister of Industry as well as three Chief Ministers of Yangon, Mandalay and Bago regions.
During his first visit to South Korea in 25 years, Thein Sein thanked South Korea for its economic and human resources development assistance to Myanmar over the past decades.
He told Lee that Myanmar is taking on reform in almost all sectors including political, economic and social sectors. Western countries have eased or lifted economic sanctions against Myanmar and Generalized System of Preference (GSP) for Myanmar's exports will be reinstated soon.
Noting that Myanmar is a resource-rich country with sufficient workforce, Thein Sein invited South Korean businessmen to invest in manufacturing industry and factories that produce finished goods which can create many job opportunities.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on development cooperation.
In his visit to STX Shipyard in Busan, Thein Sein invited the group company, which is the fourth largest ship builder in South Korea, to invest in Myanmar's three special economic zones and solar power generation for electricity in rural areas, infrastructural construction and dockyards.
While in South Korea, Thein Sein attended a Myanmar Investment Forum held at the headquarters of Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTPA) and addressed the forum. He said Myanmar is in urgent need of foreign investment and technological aid that could assist in development of inclusive economic institutions which he said are very important for democratic transition.
He also met businessmen from Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business (KBIZ), calling on the federation to extend help to Myanmar's small and medium enterprises (SME) and prepare themselves for opportunities and challenges in Myanmar.
Myanmar's Investment Commission and the KBIZ also signed a MoU on development of SMEs.
Since earlier this year, a series of bilateral cooperation activities have taken place in the two countries including several economic cooperation forums.
According to official statistics, South Korea injected a total of 2.959 billion U.S. dollars as of July 2012 since 1988, standing the 4th in Myanmar's foreign investors line-up.
Bilateral trade between Myanmar and South Korea reached 970 million U.S. dollars in 2011, according to South Korean statistics.
Myanmar figures show that bilateral trade between Myanmar and South Korea in the first four months (April-July) of the fiscal year 2012-13 amounted to 158.06 million U.S. dollars.
Myanmar and South Korea established diplomatic relations in 1975.